Melissa Jacoby with Sen. Elizabeth Warren: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes America More Unequal

Bankruptcy is the busiest federal court in America. In theory, bankruptcy in America exists to cancel or restructure debts for people and companies that have way too many debts—a safety valve designed to provide a mechanism for restarting lives and businesses when things go wrong financially.

Legal scholar Melissa B. Jacoby argues that bankruptcy has also become an escape hatch for powerful individuals, corporations, and governments, contributing in unseen and poorly understood ways to race, gender, and class inequality in America. When cities go bankrupt, for example, police unions enjoy added leverage while police brutality victims are denied a seat at the negotiating table; the system is more forgiving of civil rights abuses than of the parking tickets disproportionately distributed in African American neighborhoods. Across a broad range of crucial issues, Jacoby reveals the hidden mechanisms by which bankruptcy impacts everything from sexual harassment to health care, police violence to employment discrimination, and the opioid crisis to gun violence.

Join us for a special online-only program with Professor Jacoby in conversation with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).


Jacoby photo by Teddy Denton.

Image - Melissa Jacoby

Melissa Jacoby

Graham Kenan Professor of Law, University of North Carolina; Author, Unjust Debts: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes American More Unequal; X @melissabjacoby

Image - Elizabeth Warren

In conversation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator (D-MA); X @ewarren